GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Colombia

10 January 2017

Colombia

Local cartels, global deals and compliance advice in a maturing competition jurisdiction – along with a youthfully enthusiastic enforcer – are keeping Colombia’s antitrust lawyers busy.

Elite

ESGUERRA ASESORES JURIDICOS is a new name for the firm formerly known as Esguerra Barrera Arriaga, but the competition practice continues to be headed by Alfonso Miranda Londoño. The widely acclaimed partner remains active in the area of scholarship, as founder and director of the Centre for Studies in Competition Law, and is a non-governmental adviser to Colombia’s Superintendence of Industry and Commerce at the International Competition Network. Working beside partner Andrés Jaramillo Hoyos, he leads a group of 10 lawyers. Recently, the team obtained antitrust clearance for the Suramericana/RSA insurance merger, one of the largest deals of the year.

In a more adversarial mode, the firm has counselled more than a dozen companies in recent administrative investigations, and to a lesser extent, private litigation. For the past three years, Miranda has represented Kimberly Clark in the first leniency case in Colombia. The Superintendence of Industry and Commerce has granted the company immunity in all three cartels – notebooks, tissue paper and diapers – as the multinational cleaned house in its local subsidiary.

Esguerra Asesores acts for Koba in the supermarket chain’s conflict with Mercadería in the “hard discount” retail wars. The firm also represents two different telecoms providers being sued under unfair competition laws by content producers. Colombia Telecomunicaciones faces Radio Cadena Nacional, one of the region’s largest media companies. In 2015, the firm’s client Telmex was sued for unfair competition by the Colombian soccer league Dimayor. The case was settled favourably for both sides.

Former Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) chief Emilio Archila was joined in the partnership of ARCHILA ABOGADOS with the promotion of Camilo Pabón Almanza, who holds a diploma in law and economics from the University of Chicago and also lectures in competition and consumer law at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. They oversee two associates devoted to competition law.

Archila has defended several companies in various government investigations. One that is public is Carvajal, which the SIC investigated in the notebook cartel. While the company denied any wrongdoing and said there was no evidence of price rises during the 2001–2014 period of the alleged collusion, the authority fined it 14.8 billion Colombian pesos. Carvajal has vowed to appeal.

BAKER & MCKENZIE’s competition practice in Colombia is led by María Carolina Pardo Cuéllar, who has more than 20 years of experience. She and partner Juan Pablo Concha oversee a group that has seen three associates join and two leave in the past year. Well-regarded by other specialists in the field, Pardo has been invited to participate in a commission of experts advising the Colombian government on leniency programmes. “Given the SIC’s emphasis on dawn raids and leniency programmes, we’re now seeing a lot of interest in compliance from the antitrust perspective,” Pardo says.

Her team advised SCA, a major shareholder in one of the most important producers of diapers, tissues and toilet paper in Colombia, as the SIC investigated cartels in those markets. Recent deal work has mostly gone into the SIC’s review of mergers being handled by Baker & McKenzie globally, such as Fedex’s acquisition of TNT, and advising a third-party in intervening against a merger.

Alejandro García, already head of the competition practice at BRIGARD & URRUTIA, was promoted to partner in December 2015. The major client for the past year remained Kimberly-Clark, because of the three cartel investigations into diapers, tissues and notebooks, in which the company ultimately avoided fines.

Brigard & Urrutia filed more mergers with the SIC in 2015 than any other firm, García says, including SABMiller’s acquisition by Anheiser-Busch InBev. The Colombian review was especially challenging because Bavaria, an SABMiller subsidiary, holds 98% of the local beer market. Other local companies opposed the tie-up, requiring the negotiation of complex remedies with the authority. B&U also acted as joint counsel for Dell’s US$67 billion acquisition of EMC, and secured clearance shortly after the beginning of the Phase II analysis. The firm is advising Dow Chemical on its planned US$130 billion deal with DuPont, and Bayer on buying Monsanto.

Mauricio Jaramillo Campuzano is the only partner working primarily on competition at GÓMEZ-PINZÓN ZULETA, and he heads a practice that includes four associates. The firm advised Boehringer Ingelheim in its asset swap with Sanofi, obtaining unconditional clearances from the SIC. It also participated in the Kalamary energy deal, which involved a joint venture between Celsia, TEBSA and Termocandelaria, three of the largest players in the industry.

In the past year, the firm has been very active acting as counsel in cartel investigations and helping companies to design and implement antitrust compliance programmes. Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta advised Kimberly-Clark on consumer goods investigations as part of the first leniency case in the country. It also represented two of the largest ship piloting companies in the country against a statement of objections filed by the SIC in June 2016, accusing eight companies and two associations of allegedly fixing prices. On the compliance side, it worked with 20 companies in the electric power sector, ranging from generators to retailers, for more than four months to develop a self-regulation manual after the sector faced scrutiny for its weaknesses in response to El Niño.

Enrique Alvarez leads the four-person competition practice at LLOREDA CAMACHO & CO, with particular help in international matters from associate Darío Cadena, who has published and spoken on antitrust with the American Bar Association. Recent matters include providing training and an update of antitrust compliance policies at the chemical maker Brinsa; filing the deal notification for Minera Cobre de Colombia’s acquisition of several mining rights from Glencore; and acting for Comcel as the plaintiff in an unfair competition action against a competitor. The firm also has a share of the cartel investigations in the personal care and health industries.

Eduardo A Wiesner, founder of WIESNER & ASOCIADOS, can finally disclose what has kept him busy for more than a year: obtaining clearance for Anheuser Busch-InBev’s acquisition of SABMiller. He estimates that he spent 80% of his time on the deal, but insists that the true stars were global counsel Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and AB InBev’s in-house lawyers. A significant new client is WPP, a British multinational advertising and public relations company, and its parent GroupM. Sadly, partner Luis Roberto Morales Wiesner passed away in June 2016.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Esguerra Asesores Juridicos

Alfonso Miranda Londoño

2 partners

8 associates

Alfonso Miranda Londoño

Chevron, Terpel, Holcim, PepsiCo, Daimler, Kimberly-Clark, SABMiller, Drummond, Globenet, Celsia, Maxa, Koba, Colombia Telecomunicaciones, Telmex

Highly recommended

Archila Abogados

Emilio Archila

2 partners

2 associates

Emilio Archila

Aon Risk, Axa Colombia, Bertelsmann, Casa Editorial El Tiempo, Conconcreto, Conecel, Daimler, Expertos Seguridad, Gases del Caribe

Baker & McKenzie

María Carolina Pardo Cuéllar

2 partners

1 counsel

5 associates

None

Mallinckrodt, Chevron, Danone, Nokia, General Electric, Abbott, Unilever, FedEx

Brigard & Urrutia

Alejandro García

2 partners

3 associates

Alejandro García

Kimberly-Clark, SABMiller, Dell, Dow, Bayer

Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta

Mauricio Jaramillo-Campuzano

1 partner

4 associates

None

GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, The Clorox Company, Boehringer Ingelheim, Kimberly Clark, Avianca, IGT

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría

Martín Carrizosa

N/A

None

N/A

Recommended

Lloreda Camacho & Co

Enrique Alvarez

2 partners

2 associates

None

Comcel, Alqueria, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer Ingelheim, American Express, Brinsa, Greif, Minera Cobre de Colombia, Thomson Reuters, Merck Sharp and Dohme

Wiesner & Asociados

Eduardo A Wiesner

1 partner

2 associates

Eduardo A Wiesner

AB InBev, Amcor, Distoyota, Doosan Hydro Technologies, Oi, Rafael, Globant, AKKA Technologies, Unisys/p>

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